Foreign workers in Saudi Arabia remitted record high funds of more than US$ 27 billion in 2011. Indeed, the Kingdom has maintained its position as the region’s largest source of remittances, according to the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA).
The remittances of US$ 27.6 billion brought to nearly US$ 131.4 billion the total funds wired from the Kingdom’s eight million foreigners since 2006, as per SAMA. Last year’s remittances broke the previous year’s record transfers of around US$ 26.2 billion and were almost double the 2006 amount of circa US$ 15.3 billion.
Despite the massive foreign remittances, Saudi Arabia’s current account remained largely in the positive territory on account of surging oil prices. The surplus swelled to an all-time high of around US$ 158.5 billion in 2011 when oil prices hit a record average of US$ 105 per barrel and Riyadh boosted its crude production to nearly 9.3 million barrels per day from 8.2 million bpd in 2010.
In 2008, when crude prices peaked at an average US$ 95 per barrel, the Kingdom’s current account surplus was also as high as US$ 132.3 billion. It tumbled to US$ 21.0 billion in 2009 due to lower crude prices before sharply rebounding to US$ 66.8 billion in 2010 as a result of a rise in oil prices.
Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency, Bank Audi's Group Research Department